Heart patients ask: Is it safe for me to exercise?

heart patients and exrcise blog

It’s that time of year when many of us consider a renewed commitment to exercise and getting in shape. But if you have a heart condition, the decision to exercise might not be a matter of resolution. Instead, like many of my patients, you might be asking yourself: Is it safe for me to exercise?

Your ability to exercise depends on your diagnosis and should always be discussed with your healthcare provider. A patient with cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle, for example, typically has some restrictions on competitive exercise, though most habitual exercise-type activities would still be encouraged. Continue reading

Decrease your risk of dying from heart disease

Eating more produce is the key, studies say

heart apple FB

Everyone knows the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but could consuming more servings of produce actually decrease your risk of dying from heart disease?

Although one apple a day is certainly a good start, the latest research suggests that higher fruit and vegetable intake helps decrease your risk of death from heart disease. One study found that each additional serving of fruits and vegetables cut heart disease death by 4 percent. This means that getting 5 servings of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis may decrease your chance of dying from heart disease by 20 percent! Continue reading

Broken heart syndrome – is it real?

broken heart Blog

The recent news about former NFL quarterback Doug Flutie’s parents dying within an hour of each other after being married for 56 years is shining the spotlight on broken heart syndrome.

According to Flutie in a Facebook post, his father, Dick, had been ill and died of a heart attack in the hospital on Nov. 18. Less than an hour later, Dick Flutie’s wife, Joan, suddenly had a heart attack and also died.

The American Heart Association explains that broken heart syndrome, also called stress-induced cardiomyopathy or takotsubo cardiomyopathy, can strike even if you’re healthy. Takotsubo is a Japanese word for an octopus trap that resembles the heart’s shape during the abnormal contracture. Broken heart syndrome, although often treatable, can lead to short-term heart muscle failure and even death. Continue reading

5 ways smoking hurts your heart

smokingInfographic

University of Michigan cardiologist Dr. G. Michael Deeb wants his patients to know something: Nicotine is toxic not only to the lungs but also to the heart. “When most patients think of the dangers of smoking, they think about the lungs,” says Dr. Deeb. “But cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in Michigan, and smoking is accelerating the problem.”

According to the American Heart Association, as many as 30 percent of all coronary heart disease deaths in the United States each year are attributable to cigarette smoking, and the more you smoke, the greater your risk. But even people who smoke fewer than five cigarettes a day can have early signs of cardiovascular disease. Continue reading

Heart health and depression

Some things that might surprise you

 

Depression and heart disease blogThe American Heart Association reports that while an estimated 10 percent of Americans ages 18 and older acknowledge depression, up to 33 percent of heart attack patients develop some degree of depression.

Dr. Michelle Riba, professor of psychiatry and associate chair for U-M’s Integrated Medical and Psychiatric Services in the Department of Psychiatry and associate director of the U-M Comprehensive Depression Center, takes it a step further: “It’s very complicated,” she says, noting that “almost every major cardiac condition has psychological issues that need to be addressed.” Monitoring a heart patient’s mental health is just as important as treating his or her physical condition, she says.

It gets even more complicated, says Dr. Riba, because not only can cardiovascular disease lead to depression, but also depression can lead to cardiovascular disease. “It’s bidirectional.”

According to research in the Journal of the American Heart Association, persistent depression may double the risk of stroke in adults over 50. What’s more, new research in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes (American Heart Association journal) reports that the combination of stress and depression can significantly increase a heart patient’s risk of death or heart attack. Continue reading

Five key heart health screenings

Tests to help determine your risk for cardiovascular disease

heart blogAre you at risk for heart disease? The best way to find out is through cardiovascular screening tests. The American Heart Association recommends the following key cardiovascular health screenings:

1. Blood pressure 

Blood pressure is one of the most important screenings because high blood pressure usually has no symptoms so it can’t be detected without being measured. High blood pressure greatly increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. If your blood pressure is below 120/80 mm Hg, be sure to get it checked at least once every two years, starting at age 20. If your blood pressure is higher, your doctor may want to check it more often. High blood pressure can be controlled through lifestyle changes or medication. After age 65, women have a higher risk of high blood pressure than men, and African-American adults of all ages have a higher-than-average risk. Continue reading